Landed immigrants from Africa and Asia see highest employment rates in Canada

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: January 8, 2024

recent study by Statistics Canada revealed that landed immigrants from Africa and Asia had the highest employment rates on average, compared to landed immigrants from other regions around the world.

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Note: “Landed immigrants” (or simply “immigrants”) are technical terms used by Statistics Canada to denote a permanent resident of Canada. Individuals with a temporary status (i.e.: workers on work permit and/or international students) and natural-born or naturalised citizens of Canada do not fit into this category.

The study looked at the employment rate of immigrants from various regions of the world in Canada, who were over 15 years of age. Overall, these newcomer groups had the following employment rates in 2023:

• Africa: 67.7% employment;
• Asia: 66.3% employment;
• Latin America: 66%;
• North America: 56.6%; and
• Europe: 56.6%.

Note that for this cohort the national average employment rate was: 62.7%.

These results were also consistent across sexes, with data including just males seeing the same order of regions as overall immigrants above the age of 15. When correcting for just females, Latin America advanced to second place in terms of employment rating, with Asia coming in third—with this exception the rest of the results for females mirrored the previous two cohorts.

Core aged working population: The opposite is true

However, this is not all that the study revealed. Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that when correcting results to only include core-aged immigrants (individuals aged 25-54), these results were almost exactly inverted.

The following are employment rates for core aged immigrants by region of nationality in 2023:

• Europe: 88.3% employment;
• Latin America: 82.8% employment;
• North America: 82.7%;
• Asia: 81.7%; and
• Africa: 79.8%.

Note that for this cohort the national average employment rate was: 82.6%.

Findings for this group also proved consistent across sexes. When limiting the dataset to just females in the same group, the same order occurred when employment rates. When only considering males, North America switched spots with Latin America, ranked second and third respectively.

What does this mean?

The inversion that we see in terms of employment rate among immigrants seems to indicate that landed immigrants from Africa and Asia are much more likely to be employed between the ages of 15-25 and/or above the age of 54, than their counterparts from different areas of the world. Conversely, immigrants from Europe, Latin America, and North America boasted a higher rate of employment between the ages of 25-54 years of age, than immigrant cohorts from other areas of the world—suggesting that they are well suited to the labour market between these years.

The difference in employment rates between these two cohorts (evidenced by the stark difference in national averages between these groups), may be due to cultural differences during school years. The pronounced difference (62.7% Vs. 82.6% national employment) possibly suggests that immigrants from Europe, Latin America, and North America were more likely to focus on just schooling between the ages of 15-25, when compared to immigrants from Asia and Africa, who appeared more likely to find employment during their studies, per this new data—however more information is needed to verify this. This would explain why some regional cohorts had lower scores in the “15 and over” group, but drastically increased when limiting data to core-aged workers—though notably immigrants of all regions saw increases in employment rates in core-aged years.

More data needed

While the following study does prove insightful in observing the working habits of immigrants, it may be limited in its scope and applicability, due to the exclusion of temporary foreign workers and international students into the dataset.

Foreign workers make up a crucial part of Canada’s labour force and contribute to a significant proportion of Canada’s workforce. As of December 2022, there were 797,225 valid work permit holders in the country. In fact, within the last ten years, Canada has seen a 108% increase in temporary foreign workers, illustrating how crucial this portion of the population is to the Canadian labour force.

Similarly, Canada has seen huge increases in its international student population, estimated to be home to close to a million foreign students in 2023. Like foreign workers, international students contribute to the workforce in important ways, highlighted by Canada’s willingness to extend work hour abilities for this group through to 2024.

Inclusion of these two groups in a wider study are crucial to seeing a more representative view of Canada’s labour force.

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